Background: Applying theory to the design and evaluation of interventions is likely to increase effectiveness and improve the
evidence base from which future interventions are developed, though few interventions report this.
Objective: The aim of this paper was to assess how digital interventions to reduce hazardous and harmful alcohol consumption
report the use of theory in their development and evaluation, and whether reporting of theory use is associated with intervention
Methods: Randomized controlled trials were extracted from a Cochrane review on digital interventions for reducing hazardous
and harmful alcohol consumption. Reporting of theory use within these digital interventions was investigated using the theory
coding scheme (TCS). Reported theory use was analyzed by frequency counts and descriptive statistics. Associations were
analyzed with meta-regression models.
Results: Of 41 trials involving 42 comparisons, half did not mention theory (50% [21/42]), and only 38% (16/42) used theory
to select or develop the intervention techniques. Significant heterogeneity existed between studies in the effect of interventions
on alcohol reduction (I2 =77.6%, P<.001). No significant associations were detected between reporting of theory use and intervention
effectiveness in unadjusted models, though the meta-regression was underpowered to detect modest associations.
Conclusions: Digital interventions offer a unique opportunity to refine and develop new dynamic, temporally sensitive theories,
yet none of the studies reported refining or developing theory. Clearer selection, application, and reporting of theory use is needed
to accurately assess how useful theory is in this field and to advance the field of behavior change theories
|Number of pages||14|
|Early online date||28 Feb 2018|
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2018|
- alcohol drinking
- regression analysis
- randomized controlled trial